After this week’s UK and European political developments, I thought about Machiavelli, Shakespeare and Sun Tzu. The latter wrote in his “Art of War” that all warfare is based on deception (how true!). He went to describe this in more detail (as did Charlie Sheen in the 1980s classic “Wall Street”):
“Hence, when able to attack, we must seem unable;
When using our forces, we must seem inactive;
When we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away;
When far away, we must make him believe we are near.”
Another more controversial Chinese classic was written around the same time in 500BC, it was called “The Master of Demon Valley”. It was associated with Continue reading “The Intoxication Of Power (2 mins)”
After last week’s UK referendum result to exit the European Union (EU), I wonder whether democracy has its limitations. At the very basic level, one would hope that voters are knowledgeable over the issue at hand, and that each political group vying for votes will be held accountable for their promises.
Yet, with the prospect of Brexit now on the horizon, I’ve been looking into the mechanics and consequences of exit and its mind-bogglingly complex. Continue reading “Has Democracy Failed? (3 min read)”
With the events in Orlando, the world today looks unstable and dangerous. What doesn’t help is the tendency for political leaders to score political points over such events. It is therefore worth looking back to another time to see how leaders can behave.
For me, the “peace speech” given by John F Kennedy in June 1963 is a template of what true leadership looks like. The backdrop was the Cold War where at any time the US and the Soviet Union could trigger nuclear armageddon. Continue reading “One Of the Greatest Political Speeches”
Imagine if aliens landed and asked to meet the leader of the world. Who would be the best person for them to meet? Well, late last year a survey was conducted on which leaders are most favoured in the world. Turns out that Continue reading “Take Me To Your Leader”
Whenever I across some words of wisdom, I jot them down. Below are some of my recent favourites:
Continue reading “16 Notes On Living Well”
Whenever there are politically motivated mass murders (like the Brussels attacks) or an impending war, there are calls for more funding for intelligence services. Yet, there is a limit to what they can achieve in their current configurations. The image of slick omniscient intelligence agencies in movies and echoed by conspiracy theorists is likely way off the mark.
Indeed, the failure of US intelligence bodies on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction allowed a rare insight Continue reading “How Intelligence Agencies Really Work (3 min read)”
Of course I’m not, but surely others are. Hang on, if the “other” is me twenty years ago – were the attitudes I had back then bigoted? (hmm, no comment). Or twenty years hence, will I look back at my perspectives today, and think how regressive they were?!
I’m tempted to think that I’ll always have the perfect attitudes, but I’m not so sure when I look at the views of some of the past greats like Gandhi, Lincoln, and Churchill: Continue reading “Am I Racist?”
(excerpt from my book…)
As for working all hours of the day or excess travel, this can seriously affect our sleep. This in turn has a major impact on our general health and decision-making abilities. Lack of sleep leads to greater pangs of hunger, more inclination to diabetes, higher blood pressure, poorer immune systems and higher stress levels. Not a great starting point for good decision making.
Then there is the startling similar effects of sleep deprivation and being drunk. Continue reading “Are You Drunk While Working (Without Realising It)?!”
(An excerpt from upcoming book)
Jane Jacobs (1916-1996) was an expert on urban planning and the economics of cities. She was an activist who helped protect Greenwich Village in New York from being overhauled by an expressway running through Little Italy and SoHo and was arrested in the process. Through her work, she became an expert on the intersection between regulation and business and developed a framework to think about the moral dimensions of each. These were outlined in her excellent book “Systems of Survival”
She argued that there were some universal values such as cooperation, courage, patience and competence. But after these, two types of “moral syndromes” Continue reading “Does Work Have Any Morality? (2 min)”
Silicon Valley engineers are notoriously difficult to manage. Google even went so far as to get rid of all management positions at one point, but soon realised the ensuing chaos was worse than having management. Still not happy with the old system, they embarked on numerous experiments to determine what makes a good manager. They tracked managers performance across projects, and found that the best had the following 8 characteristics:
- Is a good coach
- Empowers the team and does not micromanage
- Expresses interest in and concern for team members’ success and personal well-being
- Is productive and results-oriented
- Is a good communicator—listens and shares information
- Helps with career development
- Has a clear vision and strategy for the team.
- Has key technical skills that help him or her advise the team
Continue reading “What Google Learnt About Good Management (1min read)”